Order cites open meeting violations
MADISON, Wis. – A Wisconsin judge on Friday temporarily blocked the state’s new and contentious collective bargaining law from taking effect, raising the possibility that the Legislature may have to vote again to pass the bill.
Lawmakers had approved Gov. Scott Walker’s measure last week, breaking a three-week stalemate caused by 14 Senate Democrats fleeing to Illinois.
Dane County District Judge Maryann Sumi granted the temporary restraining order in response to a lawsuit filed by the local Democratic district attorney alleging that Republican lawmakers violated the state’s open meetings law by hastily convening a special committee before the Senate passed the bill.
Sumi said her ruling would not prevent the Legislature from reconvening the committee with proper notice and passing the bill again.
But Walker’s spokesman and Republican legislative leaders indicated they would press on with the court battle rather than consider passing the bill again.
“We fully expect an appeals court will find that the Legislature followed the law perfectly and likely find that today’s ruling was a significant overreach,” Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and his brother, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, said in a joint statement. “We highly doubt a Dane County judge has the authority to tell the Legislature how to carry out its constitutional duty.”
In addition to restricting the bargaining rights, the law would require most public workers in the state to contribute more to their pension and health care costs.